Raising Baby Kittens, First, Second and Third Week
The cats are excellent at being mothers. They feed, nurse and protect their kittens when they small. And later teach them abilities that they will need to survive in the adult life. In wild colonies, the females take turns to care for the younger ones.
The First Days
Kittens are born with their eyelids closed and their ears are folded backwards, therefore they are blind and deaf. A deep rooted reflex helps them locate their mothers nipples. The first milk, during the first days after birth, is called the calostrum. It is composed of different nutrients and antibodies that protect the kittens against sicknesses during their first two weeks of life. While they feed kittens use their front paws to massage the mothers belly and stimulate the milk flow. This behavior often extends in adult age, when a cat sits on its owners lap, purring and rubbing its front paws. This gives the owner pleasure mixed with fear because the cats claws can be extended.
Note:An Italian legend tells of the time when Mary gave birth to Jesus, a cat that lived in the same household had her kittens. Leonardo da Vinci included a cat and her kittens in many of her studies of the Madonna and the Child.
The First Week
During this period the kittens do nothing else but suckle and sleep. Being deaf, blind and incapable of walking, they are totally dependant on their mothers to survive. She licks and rubs them with her nose so that they will feed, she stimulates them to eliminate their waste, licking their tails and later cleaning them.
The Second Week
At this time the kittens grow rapidly and can mobilize by dragging themselves. In this stage, the eyes which are always blue, start to open. Their ears begin to stand up and they can hear clearly. They try to stand up and give their first trembling steps.
The Third Week
Their milk teeth begin to grow. The kittens are anxious to explore their surroundings and begin to with objects and between themselves. During this stage the mother still spends most of her time with them, but she begins to prepare them to be independent by leaving them alone for short periods of times. In their wild stage she kills prey and takes it to the nest to eat in front of them.